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What To Look For When Buying Social Media Analytics Tools?

What To Look For When Buying Social Media Analytics Tools? image hausman book rast oept38As you probably know, I’m writing a book on Social Media Analytics (BTW, you can grab the first 2 chapters FREE and give me feedback). As part of my research, many companies gave me demos of their products — some even invited me into their Betas to give feedback on the software (Thank you SocialEars). After seeing so many products demoed, I have to say it’s a little confusing. (You can see the entire list of social media analytics software and even add or vote up your favorites at: List.ly)

To help evaluate social media analytics software, I ran across this checklist listing qualities to look for when buying a social media analytics solution.

Social media analytics tools: Evaluation

According the this post, buyers should evaluate social media analytics software on the following criteria:

  1. Speed – does the tool track metrics in real-time or is there a lag (Google Analytics =, for instance, has a delay of several hours). Hearing about a negative Tweet hours later, makes it difficult to salvage your reputation.
  2. Scope — here we have 4 things to consider:

    1. Where is data gathered? Does the tool only collect data from Twitter or Facebook or is it more comprehensive. Optimally, your social media analytics software should find data across multiple social media platforms, blogs, news sites, and press releases.
    2. Signal to noise ratio – a tool that’s great for collecting social media mentions from multiple sources can be very spammy, containing lots of mentions with little value to the company. A good social media analytics software should filter results so you only see the most valuable stuff, rather than tons of RT and off-topic conversations.
    3. No social media analytics software will find every mention of your brand (or other keyword you’re using). The average is about 65% of the conversation is captured by your software. Make sure the social media analytics tool you’re considering meets or exceeds this value.
    4. Type of data collected. Some social media analytics tools are better at collecting sentiment (such as Trackur) others collect data about performance (such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights), while others are focused on movement down the sales funnel (such as Awe.sm). While it would be nice to have 1 tool that does it all, I find you need multiple social media analytics tools to effectively monitor your reputation and track performance.
  3. Simplicity — I’m not sure any tools is truly simple, but the tool should be intuitive and relatively easy to set up. At a minimum, you shouldn’t need your IT department involved on a regular basis to get the software to do what you need it to — which leaves out IBM’s software, which requires JavaScript installed on each page you’re tracking.
  4. Scalability — here the authors are talking about data storage and compressing the data. However, I’m not sure you really want to store a bunch of data. It’s better to analyze the data and save the analysis. Even conversations lose meaning over time, so you should really only store recent conversations.

My own social media analytics tools advice

So, that’s their list of considerations. I’d like to add some of my own.

  1. Cost — yeah, I know that not having the right metrics cost more than any social media analytics tool could possible cost, but, face it, there isn’t an unlimited supply of money available to buy social media analytics software. Sometimes free is good. I highly recommend Google Analytics, as well as the analytics available with other platforms, like Facebook Insights. Others are worth paying for. As folks vote up my List.ly list, you’ll have more insight into which ones are worth the cost.
  2. Export capabilities — I think there’s huge value in being able to export your data as a CSV file (Excel). That’s because I like looking at data from different tools in 1 place — I use an IBM Cognos dashboard.
  3. Flexibility — different folks might like to see things displayed in different ways. Your CMO might want a high-level view while your community managers might need to deep dive into the data. Some users might like pie charts while others prefer line graphs and certain metrics make more sense when viewed with certain types of graphics. Your social media analytics tool should be flexible to let each analyst view the data in the way that makes sense to them.

Your turn

So, help everyone out by commenting with your own criterion for choosing social media analytics tools. Add your favorites or vote them up on my List.ly list.

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Comments on this Article: 1

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  1. Jason Bernstein says:

    IBM Social Media Analytics is offered as an On-premises or SaaS offering. Your page indicates that SMA requires Javascript to be loaded on every page of your site, which is not accurate – that sounds like Google Analytics to me. And as far as getting your IT department involved, our SaaS offering makes the Social Media Analytics software a breeze to set up and start using.

    See my recent blog entry on some of the differences between IBM Social Media Analytics SaaS and On-premises offerings. https://ibm.biz/Bdx5g4

    Disclaimer: I am an IBM employee and opinions are my own.

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